The term Love cannot be boxed into one definition. Everyone chooses what it means to them and how they express it. Away from the societal definition, I decided to undertake a scholarly view of love- how it comes and what it means- in order to see love from different perspectives. Join me on this journey as we learn from two schools of thought; philosopy and psychology.
It may seem doubtful that philosophers have much to tell us about love (beyond their love of wisdom). Surely it is the poets who have the market cornered when it comes to deep reflection on the nature of love. John and Ken question the notion that love cannot be captured by the light of reason by turning their attention to the philosophy of love with philosopher-poet Troy Jollimore from CSU Chico. Troy is the author of Love’s Vision, as well as two collections of poems: At Lake Scugog and 2006’s Tom Thomson in Purgatory, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Many people have claimed (at least once) that they are in love, and it is a theme in countless books and songs. But what is love? Is it rational or irrational? John and Ken agree right off the bat that it’s a complicated concept. Troy Jollimore, philosophy professor, poet, and author of Love’s Vision , is invited to the conversation to puzzle with them.
John begins with the million dollar question: “What is love?” Troy responds by saying that love is an emotion, but there are more than simple feelings involved. Love is also a perception of value and a commitment of will. Feelings come and go, but along with this ebb is a consistency of decision to be devoted to someone.
Next, Ken wonders how subject love is to reasons. He describes a few of the reasons why he loves his wife; she’s smart, beautiful, and cares about animals. But if those qualities are the reasons why he loves his wife, Ken wonders, then why wouldn’t he begin to love someone else who had more of the same qualities? And why don’t other people love his wife if they agree that his reasons are good ones? Troy calls these two scenarios the trading up problem and the universality problem. He insists that love is rational, but not in the coldly calculated, economic way of comparison that we usually associate with rationality. He categorizes love is a type of perception which is effected by perspective; to a degree, love is actually “blind,” but this does not mean that it is irrational, because all of Ken’s reasons for loving his wife are still good ones.
Although Ken, John, and Troy mostly discuss reciprocal romantic love, they also touch upon friendship, the love a parent has for a child, unrequited love, and the case of arranged marriages. Ken continues by commenting how love is special in that it allows one person to see another in their full, unique particularity. Troy agrees, proclaiming love to be the cure for solipsism.
The Pyschologists on the other hand hold the view that love is involuntary. Brain science tells us it’s a drive like thirst. It’s a craving for a specific person. It’s normal, natural to “lose control” in the early stage of romance. Love, like thirst, will make you do strange things, But knowledge is power. It’s a natural addiction and treating it like an addiction can help you.
The ancient Greeks called love “the madness of the gods.” Modern psychologists define it as it the strong desire for emotional union with another person. But what, actually, is love. It means so many different things to different people. Songwriters have described it, “Whenever you’re near, I hear a symphony.” Shakespeare said, “Love is blind and lovers cannot see.” Aristotle said, “Love is composed of a single soul inhabiting two bodies.”
Romance is one of the basic brain systems that evolved for mating and reproduction: The sex drive or lust—the craving for sexual gratification –evolved to enable you to seek a range of potential mating partners. After all, you can have sex with someone you aren’t in love with. You can even feel the sex drive when you are driving in your car, reading a magazine or watching a movie. Lust is not necessarily focused on a particular individual.
Romantic love, or attraction—the obsessive thinking about and craving for a particular person –evolved to enable you to focus your mating energy on just one individual at a time. As Kabir, the Indian poet put it: “The lane of love is narrow; there is room for only one.”
These brain systems–and feelings–interact in many ways to create our myriad forms of loving. Whether it’s called romantic love, obsessive love, passionate love, or infatuation, men and women of every era and every culture have been affected by this irresistible power. The intensity of romantic love tends to last somewhere from six months to two years before turning into attachment in most relationships. Romance is where love begins, and it seems to have the most extreme effect on human behavior.
From the following, we can infer that love can be a compliacted process, and can sometimes seem to be irrational. As I mentioned in an earlier post love can be sweet but love can also hurt sometimes. However, falling in love may not always be intentional but staying in love is a choice we have and can make.
Courtesy: anatomyoflove.com and philosophytalk.org